Take A Deep Breath: Social Media and Technology (Part 3)
Take a Deep Breath blog series. Part Three: Social Media and Technology
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Technology and Weight Loss Surgery
Perhaps at first glance it might seem strange that I would talk about technology in this theme of taking a deep breath in your weight loss surgery journey.
I could call it take a deep breath and social media and most would understand where I was going with that. However, I do think it’s bigger than just social media.
Technology to me encompasses our phones, televisions, smart watches, tablets and more. There are so many wonderful things about technology and what it can provide in weight loss journey!
It was not long ago I had to keep a food journal in a notebook or equally as difficult, had to read the handwriting of other peoples food journals! I remember when I started using my first grocery list app and it was mind blowing! Who knew just a couple years later I could also have those groceries delivered TO my door.
Technology also allows us to connect with others! One of the saving graces about being in a pandemic is that the infrastructure to meet and connect online already existed. Bariatric support groups, Facebook groups or the accountability groups in Baritastic. Our members use a closed Facebook group and Baritastic to connect!
We can measure progress and step s and workout times. We can compete against other people for steps to encourage more movement. Use streaming services for at home workouts.
There are great things to be said about technology! But it does have it is downsides. When comparison creeps in or obsessively Googling the answers to losing weight faster or trying to find out what everyone else is doing in case they have the secret answers.
Technology plays a big role in our every day life and it does warrant a conversation on what is a healthy use and what is bringing in more anxiety than necessary.
What technology and social media IS good for
I already introduced many of the wonderful things about technology and bariatric surgery patients but let’s dive in a little more.
From the beginning of someones journey to surgery, it is a wonderful thing that you can search in the comfort and privacy of your own home to find out more about surgery. Is it for me? What does it cost? Is it worth it? What can you eat afterwards?
A lot of research can be done even before signing up for a free seminar. Even those can be done online now! As someone is preparing for surgery they can go online and read blogs from patients who have been there before or look up recipes and meal ideas to help feel more comfortable for after surgery.
Patients who have just had their surgery can find others who have just had surgery. They can connect with groups on Facebook or friends on Instagram. They can ask questions like “did this happen to you?” or “what can I have for breakfast?”
Apps like InstaCart for grocery delivery or Walmart pickup orders make meal planning and shopping much easier. Pinterest makes it easier to find meal ideas. FitBit, Apple or Garmin watches help you to know how you slept, how many steps you’ve had, if you need to take a break from work and walk around.
Even Baritastic can be connected to your surgery program (members can connect to me here on Bariatric Food Coach) so technology makes it very easy for providers and dietitians to see your food logs, weight logs and more and give instant feedback.
What I am saying here is, technology is awesome for weight loss surgery patients!
What technology and social media is not good for
But wait there is more.
When it comes to technology, there can be too much of a good thing.
What is meant to make things easier or smarter or allows people to connect more, can also overflow into taking away from more of the present reality.
You have likely heard about digital detoxing. Just today I had an email from a toy company marketing a “digital detox” kit that includes games for kids to get them off of technology.
We hear all the time about Americans being addicted to their phones. I agree with that on a personal level.
I set a personal goal in 2020 to really cut back on my use of technology. This has been a constant work in progress to see what would really help me to establish clear boundaries. I try to put my phone in a closet when I’m with my kids. I try to consistently delete apps that I don’t really need. I took my work email off of my phone.
I even went as far as buying a dumb phone to use as a secondary phone. My iPhone allows me to forward my calls to my dumb phone so I can leave my smart phone behind and have my dumb phone with me for emergencies.
What I can say is this: I feel far more rested on the days I have been on my phone less. I enjoy my kids more. I don’t feel like I’m behind on everything.
The days I have been on my phone, even if it felt productive at the time for ordering that real quick, answering that real quick, scrolling on that for a bit of zone out time, I noticed I ended the day feeling more tired and more anxious about what I wasn’t getting done.
Technology can be great, but it really does need balance and boundaries.
Technology and the comparison game
One of the great things of technology that I have already highlighted is the ability to connect with others online.
You can meet bariatric patients who had the same surgery you did on the same month you did. That is awesome! You can connect with that person in ways many others cannot. It’s why I like talking to Moms who have kids the same age as mine or talking to someone else who runs a business out of their home. Connecting in a unique way like that can make you feel so known!
The downside is when it starts to impact your emotional wellbeing. Perhaps someone who was about to have their surgery went ahead and joined several Facebook groups and now their feed is covered in other peoples success stories. If you are having a tough week and then go online and see someone else’s before and after photo, it may send you down a road of self doubt, pity or evening wanting to give up.
When it comes to going online and connecting with others, I think it does matter that you check in with yourself and make sure you don’t feel too vulnerable going into it. If you aren’t in the best place, it might be better to turn it all off. Go for a walk or work on a hobby you enjoy. Take a deep breath and find space to yourself instead of turning on a device.
Perhaps other times when you feel vulnerable and you want to connect with someone to show you compassion that only another post-op can offer. You want to be encouraged and supported. In those instances, go to the place you know you will feel supported. Do you have a certain person to go to? Would it be better in an email or text message? Are smaller Facebook groups a better fit for you?
There is no hard and fast rule to how to use social media on your journey but my point is to be in tune to what you need and if going online is helpful or hurtful in that moment. You might need to leave groups or unfollow something that isn’t’ helpful.
Side note: you might choose just one social media platform if you do need to detox! I felt the comparison game coming up for me but needed to stay on Facebook for our Bariatric Food Coach Members group so I stepped away from Instagram. One was enough for me.
Scheduling breaks to breath from technology while you stay the course
Technology can be awesome. Technology can be draining. The balance is the real beast.
I wanted to bring up the conversation in this theme of “Taking a deep breath” because it is such a big piece of our daily life. Take an inventory and ask yourself if you need boundaries in your technology.
Do you need to put your phone away from one hour a day?
Should you put your phone away for one day a week?
Do you need to unfollow or leave any groups that leave you feeling poorly?
Are there multiple social media platforms you are on and feel compelled to stick with just one or two?
Do you need a dumb phone to forward calls to? Okay that one might just be me 😂
When it comes to a weight loss journey, so many things can bring in unnecessary worry, anxiety and doubt. My encouragement to you is to revisit what you want technology to do for you on this journey, and what you don’t want out of it.
Stay the Course
Technology can be a really helpful tool for practical things like ordering groceries, tracking food, measuring steps and connecting with others.
It can also send your mind spinning and lead you into think you aren’t doing enough.
In the end, you just have to stay true to yourself. Use technology in the ways that help you to be you.
And, stay the course.
You know when you are doing well. You know when you need some work. You know when reaching out to someone will help and when you need to take a deep breath and stay away from screens.
Who knows, maybe a digital detox box full of games would be good for you too :)
Live Challenge Call Sunday, October 25th
For those of you taking the Fall 2020 Get Focused Challenge, we will dive more into this topic of taking a deep breath from technology on Sunday!
Calls are at 7:30pm Central time and the Zoom link will be email to active members.
Next up in this series:
Part One in our series was an introduction to the power of taking a deep breath. Catch up here.
Part Two we talked about taking a deep breath from the scale.